A beam of blinding spring sunlight shone through the trees into the empty schoolyard. Even this place, with brightly coloured walls and hopscotch markings on the ground, seems to bear the ghostly remnants of the lives who once passed through. A keep of memories for the now grown schoolchildren of the Liberties.
Inside, Marie Farrington’s welcoming piece, ?Light leanings? sleepily rests against the wall, an unassuming piece of plywood, bearing graphite scars and the raw material from which it was borne. The black and white print beneath it is an image of a wooden floor in Marsh’s Library, a place of unrivalled veneration in the city. Instant attention is demanded to contemplate material. One, a functional modern hybrid, cheap. The other, highly regarded, classical and valuable.
There is an oscillation between the material here and the material there; they are similar in their function, used the same way but they are not regarded equally. This oscillation begs us to question the components that make up the two materials, extracted from connotations of commercial values. At a basic level they are trees, glue, pulp and varnish.
Inspired by a ghost story, the works feel ghostly. Materialisations suggesting but not quite embodying the forms they are imitating. The work, mostly flat and resting on the floor, is grounded, quite literally and figuratively. I notice that the photographs of Marsh’s Library seem to deliberately avoid depicting people or books, the very item we associate most with the library.
Considering that the exhibition aims to unpack exchanges between “myth, language, material and place” it is significant that there are no books depicted. Whether intentional or not, there is an insinuation that place and material are intrinsically linked but there is an avoidance to attempt to describe their intersection with language despite the exhibition’s intention to unpack these exchanges. The impression that is formulated from the artworks is that the histories and myths that inhabit Marsh’s are residual in the space itself and cannot be captured by language in the way we traditionally understand it – letters, sentences, chapters and books.
There is a recurring theme of permeability throughout the exhibition, particularly in relation to light. Next to Light leanings?, there is a glass piece shaped to mimic that of the iron handrail which leads to the library. The only unifying attribute between the glass and the handrail is its curved upper edge. The glass reflects the light creeping in from outside the gallery and it acts as an emblem to the illusory. The opacity of the glass makes it seem like a lighter material and yet if transported and enlarged to the library, the lower section would act as a barrier from one side of the steps to the other, unlike its iron muse. L?ay out ?again is permeable in its form and Light holdings references the print of an outside window.
The prints in particular all reference a relationship between traditional building materials and the living natural world. This is reinforced by the inclusion of pollen as a material element in Light holdings. ?There is a suggestion that material and place are both vulnerable to the forces of nature and often this vulnerability leads to a manipulation in the attributes of man-made materials.
The exhibition is supposed to ‘play on the idea of multiplicity’ and while on entering I considered the boundaries of each of the four elements – myth, language, material and place conflated, I leave feeling that by ?unpacking,? the artist has deconstructed each element to be a singular, cognitive notion. Each of which is futile to withstand the manipulation of time and nature.